If I Value the Test Do I Feel More or Less Emotion? Exploration of Value and Emotions

Document Type


Journal/Book Title/Conference

International Conference on Motivation


Copenhagen, Denmark

Publication Date


Award Number

National Science Foundation (NSF) Division Of Undergraduate Education 1661100

Award Title

ECR CORE Collaborative: Getting Real about Engineering: An Exploration of the Emotional Lives and Motivations of Students in the Engineering Classroom

Funding Agency

National Science Foundation (NSF) Division Of Undergraduate Education


Students’ academic achievement emotions (AAE), such as shame, pride, enjoyment, and anger figure prominently when taking exams, particularly in high stakes engineering courses, because they contribute to how we perceive, decide, respond, and problem-solve (Pekrun, Goetz, Frenzel, Barchfeld, & Perry, 2011). Control-value theory contends that these emotions are explained by the interaction between students’ assessments of their ability, academic self-efficacy (ASE), and their valuing of the content or activity (Pekrun, 2006). Self-efficacy is negatively related to negative emotions (e.g., shame, anger, etc.), positively related to positive activating emotions (e.g., pride, enjoyment, etc.) (Putwain, Sander, & Larkin, 2013). Perceptions of instrumentality (PI), is a form of value, and represent perceptions about whether a task or outcome is instrumental for a future goal (Husman& Hilpert, 2007). Research indicates that those who perceive a task or outcome as instrumental, exhibit emotional reactions when compared to those who do not value the task (Steele, 1997). Efficacy and PI independently impact emotional experiences, they may also exert a mutual influence. Self-efficacy’s influence on emotion may be moderated by perceptions of instrumentality. In addition, PI may mediate, or account for the relations between self-efficacy and emotions (Turner & Schallert, 2001). Although, value, is related to intense emotions (e.g., shame, pride, joy), we anticipate that, within the context of a highly valued future goal (e.g., passing an important exam), students’ who value the course for their futures may engage in strategies to refocus their academic emotions and allow them to fully engage in the exam. Turner (Turner & Schallert, 2001) and colleagues found that students’ PI is related to their ability to recover from shame response. It is possible, therefore, that in the case of this particular negative emotion, PI may reduce the intensity of a negative emotion, independent of their anticipated success. Much of the research on academic achievement emotions has been conducted through self-report or laboratory studies. Findings on students’ emotional responses to tasks in experimental contexts may not generalize to more realistic learning and performance situations, as they may lack relevance to students’ actual performance, which likely impacts students’ valuing of the task, which may alter the valence and intensity of students’ emotions.